Cervical Fusion Errors Which Result in Permanent Disability: Oregon Medical Malpractice

Oregon Medical Malpractice and Cervical Fusions: Mistakes that Paralyze Victims


A cervical fusion is an invasive and non-reversible surgery.  It is also a dangerous one.  It is commonly performed after a patient has some extensive trauma to the neck, usually after a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall, or sport injury.  The damaged structures can be the individual vertebra or the discs between them (both of these structures form the spinal column), or the nerves, vessels, or even the spinal cord that exist around and in the spinal column.  Cervical fusions are a type of surgery that stabilize the damage to this area to relieve pain and protect the spinal cord from further damage.  The goal is to stabilize the neck to prevent paralysis.


But this is a complicated surgery and one that is risky.  There are many steps that must be performed, and some steps which come dangerously close to major nerves or even the spinal cord itself.  Damage to the spinal cord during a cervical fusion can cause a person to be paralyzed from the neck down.  If this is caused by Oregon medical malpractice, victims may be entitled to compensation for their injuries such as pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical bills.


Understanding a Cervical Fusion Surgery


A cervical fusion can be performed through the front (anteriorly) or back (posteriorly) of your neck.  It is really two separate surgeries which are performed together in a single surgery.  The first step is a discectomy and laminectomy.  The discectomy is to remove the jelly-like substance between each vertebra that may be damaged or impinging on the spinal cord or nerves originating from the spinal cord.  This includes removing the entire disc or a portion of the disc, which serves at the cushioning between the bones.  A laminectomy is the removal of the lamina, or the bone on the back of the vertebra, which allows for hardware to be safely affixed to the bone for the second part of the surgery.


The second part of the surgery is a fusion.  This is when a bridge, device, or material is inserted in the gap created by the discectomy.  The material could be surgical cement, plastic replacement disc, bone graft, metal, or another object.  The idea is to connect the above vertebra with the below vertebra.  When the spacer or bridge is in place, the two vertebrae and device are screwed or fixed into place in the area where the laminectomy was performed.  This immobilizes the two vertebrae which are causing the pain or potential for injury to the spinal cord.


There are many technical ways to perform a cervical fusion, but this is the general procedure how it is performed.


What Could Go Wrong in a Cervical Fusion?


The cervical vertebra are smaller and weaker than the larger thoracic or very large lumbar vertebra.  This means that there is less space and less bone between the outside and the spinal cord.  Injuries were are common during the laminectomy where the surgeon is removing part of the bone to make room for the screws or fixture objects.  Other injuries occur when the screws or fixture devices are being placed into the vertebra, which could pierce through and damage the spinal cord.


Cervical fusions are also dependent on good anesthesia monitoring.  This is because the anesthesia team must keep the patient’s blood pressure normal and the patient “perfused.”  This means monitoring fluids out (blood, urine) and fluids in (IV fluid or donated blood).  The fair to do so could compromise the spinal cord and make it more susceptible to injury during the surgery.


Surgeon errors are also common causes of paralysis.  This includes where the surgeon takes the wrong angle to insert screws.  Or when the surgeon “digs” too far or aggressively with the discectomy and damages the spinal cord.  These injuries can leave a patient permanently paralyzed from the neck down.


Paralysis Caused by Botched Cervical Fusions Due to Medical Malpractice May Result in Compensation for Victims


If you or a loved one have been paralyzed after a cervical fusion surgery, you may be entitled to compensation for your pan and suffering, lost wages, lost earnings (ability to work in the future), medical bills, physical therapy bills, medical equipment expenses, and other damages.  To learn what your rights are, please call our compassionate and knowledge lawyer at Kuhlman Law, LLC.


We handle cases throughout Oregon and Central Oregon, including Deschutes County, Redmond, Sisters, La Pine, Madras, Prineville, The Dalles, Hood River, Clackamas, Corvallis, Albany, Lake Oswego, West Linn, Tigard, Salem, Portland, Hillsboro, Vancouver, Washington, Beaverton, Oregon City, Eugene, Coos Bay, Astoria, Newport, Pendleton, Tillamook,  Milwaukie, Gresham, Medford, and any other city, including Bend, Oregon where our main law office is located, please call Kuhlman Law, LLC by dialing (541) 385-1999 to learn what your rights to compensation you may have.  You may also contact us using our easy and convenient “contact us” box at the bottom of our website.  If we accept your case, we will conduct a thorough investigation to get you the answers you deserve, all for free.  There is no risk, and you only pay us if we recover compensation for you.

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